Episodes

  • Scott Johnson talks to Sarah Powers, a long term teacher of yoga and Buddha Dharma, about her life of contemplative practice and its culmination in her new book 'Lit From Within'.

    We’d like to invite you to join our growing monthly Stillpoint Yoga community. We teach in-person in London Bridge and live stream online Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes, with weekly yoga clinics and philosophy sessions guided by Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. We also have a growing library of on-demand content. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

    Also, consider joining our Patreon community. We share these podcasts every 2 weeks and would love your feedback, input and support. You can even join a monthly live call to share your thoughts.

    Sarah Powers is an author, therapist and co-founder of Insight Yoga Institute. Her work is led by a desire for healing, and over the past 35 years Sarah has explored a number of healing modalities. Her yoga practise began with Ashtanga in the company of Chuck Miller, Maty Ezraty, Tim Miller, and Richard Freeman. There she found a daily ritual, an invitation to explore what changes on the inside, when on the surface things might look the same.

    In this rich and generous conversation, Sarah shares how a profound experience she had while on retreat with Jack Kornfield deeply impacted her life. She’d been a yoga practitioner for over a decade at that point, but this was the time that it first truly made sense to her. Her previous practise served as a preparation for the Buddhist teachings she encountered. She studied both Theravada and Dzogchen, and saw comparisons with her previous studies in Advaita Vedanta. Sarah believes that underlying the multiplicity of teachers and traditions, they would all agree on the fundamental nature of freedom.

    Over time, Sarah moved away from teaching Ashtanga yoga and towards a more Yin based approach, but the essence of inquiry that she first found in Ashtanga remains. Now, she combines yoga with mindfulness meditation in her classes, integrating yoga and Buddha Dharma with the intention of introducing beginners to meditation.

    She is the author of Insight Yoga and her most recent book Lit from Within takes a holistic approach to healing our five experiential centres: the physical, energetic, mental, emotional, and interpersonal realms.

    You can find out more about Sarah’s work here.

    "This conversation with Sarah is so, so rich. I had wanted to speak to Sarah for a while, for her to expand on her beautiful view and experience on how the Buddha Dharma and yoga traditions blend together. I got so much and more. Sarah's wonderful and insightful way of seeing these practices and then sharing them is visceral and compelling. This conversation will leave you feeling like you've stepped right into the middle of Sarah's world. Full, inviting and so, so rich..."

    Scott Johnson - January 2022

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Kia Naddermier, Martin Aylward and Ann Weston

  • Scott talks to Ashtanga yoga teacher Ty Landrum about yoga and how it ‘ruined his life’ in the best possible way.

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    We’d like to invite you to join our growing monthly Stillpoint Yoga community. We teach in-person in London Bridge and live stream online Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes, with weekly yoga clinics and philosophy sessions guided by Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. We also have a growing library of on-demand content. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

    Also, consider joining our Patreon community. We share these podcasts every 2 weeks and would love your feedback, input and support. You can even join a monthly live call to share your thoughts.

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    Ty is renowned for his understanding of philosophy and academic knowledge. He never liked school, but after being awarded a wrestling scholarship Ty decided he’d go to college. While there, he found himself wrestling with the problem of the general disorientation he experienced within his day-to-day life. Philosophy seemed to offer clues to the answers he was searching for, and so he continued to study, and now holds a PhD in the subject.

    He attended his first yoga class while he was at college. He was experiencing depression, and his friend encouraged him to go to a class with Jennifer Eliot. Ty experienced something immediate and visceral in that yoga class, something he’d been grasping for in his studies but newer fully realised. It changed his way of relating to philosophy, and it equipped him with the tools he needed to process the deep grief he had been carrying following the loss of two important people in his life.

    In this sensitive and intelligent conversation, Ty shares about the clumsiness of academics, the wisdom of the body, and the primacy of human touch. He talks about the revelation of meeting Richard Freeman with his syncretic approach to philosophy. He discusses different wisdom traditions that, despite superficial differences, are united in their overall goal of spreading compassion. For Ty, yoga has been a path to intimacy, communion and relationship with all aspects of his life.

    You can find out more about Ty’s work here.

    ‘Ty is one of the most intelligent and wise Ashtanga teachers in the field of yoga at the moment. The way he weaves yoga asana and philosophy together through stories, wisdom and language is beautiful and I wanted to capture how he got there. This conversation actually weaves like its own story, capturing the real spirit of how yoga has evolved in Ty's life. Bring a note book. There is so much to notice...'

    Scott Johnson - January 2022

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Petri Räisänen, Kia Naddermier and Dr Matthew Clark

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  • Scott talks to yoga teacher, writer and renowned podcast host J.Brown

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    We’d like to invite you to join our growing monthly Stillpoint Yoga community. We teach in-person in London Bridge and live stream online Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes, with weekly yoga clinics and philosophy sessions guided by Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. We also have a growing library of on-demand content. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

    Also, consider joining our Patreon community. We share these podcasts every 2 weeks and would love your feedback, input and support. You can even join a monthly live call to share your thoughts.

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    J.Brown has been practising yoga for nearly thirty years, and teaching for almost twenty. In that time he taught at studios in New York, managed his own studio, and has been an early adopter of teaching yoga online. His ‘Yoga Talks’ is one of the most widely listened to yoga podcasts - you can listen to his episode with Scott Johnson here.

    J came to yoga after his mum died at a young age. Yoga made him feel better, even in moments when he thought feeling better wasn’t possible. Yoga helped J. to process his grief, and over time his practise evolved from a physically intense asana practise to something more gentle. J. went on to develop his own personal teaching style of ‘gentle is the new advanced’.

    In this wide-ranging conversation, J. shares about the challenges of establishing himself as a ‘gentle’ yoga teacher when power yoga was at its peak. J. talks about how his podcast developed, as well as the push-back he has received as a result of his decision to publish certain podcast episodes.

    Throughout the conversation, J. keeps coming back to how yoga is a practise of praise. Where once he might have distanced himself from it, now he embraces his spirituality and the mystical wonder of life.

    You can find out more about J.’s work here.

    ‘J hosts one of the leading yoga podcasts of the past five years and has spoken to hundreds of people. He was also a great help in setting the Stillpoints Podcast up. In speaking to J I wanted to get underneath what is meaningful for him. This conversation is at one point informative and another so tender. I so appreciated J allowing me to go on a journey with him...'

    Scott Johnson - December 2021

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Frank Jude Boccio, Zephyr Wildman, Lucille Meyer and Dr Matthew Clark

  • Scott talks to Ashtanga yoga teacher and co-founder of the Miami Life Centre Tim Feldmann about the past, present and future of teaching Ashtanga yoga. In this nuanced and meaningful conversation, Tim and Scott discuss dancing as a spiritual practise, movement as a healing modality, and the teacher’s role as a vessel for knowledge.

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    We’d like to invite you to join our growing monthly Stillpoint Yoga community. We teach in-person in London Bridge and live stream online Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes, with weekly yoga clinics and philosophy sessions guided by Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. We also have a growing library of on-demand content. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

    Also, consider joining our Patreon community. We share these podcasts every 2 weeks and would love your feedback, input and support. You can even join a monthly live call to share your thoughts.

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    Tim found his way to yoga after a catastrophic accident in Venezuela in 1992 interrupted his professional dancing career. He encountered Lino Miele in the late 1990’s, who set Tim on the path to practising with Pattabhi Jois in Mysore. There he met his wife, Kino MacGregor, and in 2006 they founded the Miami Life Centre, where they continue to teach together to this day.

    Tim shares openly about the fear he felt before practising with Jois, who even then had a reputation for fearsome physical adjustments. When Tim finally felt ready to practise with him (after completing Advanced A), he recalls feeling gratitude for the assists he received.

    Since Karen Rain’s revelations of sexual assault at the hands of Jois, Tim has had to come to terms with how his experience was at odds with that of the women Jois abused. He asks himself how he failed to notice, talking to Scott about how ‘crazy and amazing’ those days in Mysore were, concluding that sometimes people ‘surrendered’ at the expense of the safety of themselves and those around them.

    Since opening the Miami Life Centre in 2006, Tim has moved his own teaching away from a hierarchical model and towards one that prioritises safety and inclusiveness. Having been confronted with the somewhat blasé attitude towards anatomy in the early days, he’s relieved to see a more detailed and logical approach developing in recent years.

    He talks about the value and limitations of lineage and hierarchy - that structure can create clarity, but space to explore is essential. He talks about the ‘lineage holders’ of Ashtanga yoga, and the nature of how knowledge is passed down.

    And finally, reflecting on the past couple of years, Tim concludes with how nothing is more important in life than being there for other people.

    Tim is the co-founder and captain of the world-wide recognized Miami Life Center and of the newly opened Miami Yoga Garage - a new ambitious Shala and cultural house in Miami's fun Wynwood district. He has practiced yoga since 1994 and Ashtanga Since 1999. Authorized to teach by Pattabhi Jois and Sharath Jois he explores core concepts and modern boundaries of Patanjali’s yoga teachings alike. A practitioner of Ashtanga Yoga’s Advanced A Series Tim finds Ashtanga’s traditional method an exceptional path towards healing, wisdom and self-realisation. Drawing upon his past as an internationally successful dancer and acclaimed choreographer, anatomy, alignment and technique is his second nature. Tim has been pursuing in-depth studies of Patanjali, Sankhya and Vedanta over the past 7 years with Vidwan Nagaraja Rao, Jayashree & Narasimha and other exceptional scholars in South India. Cherished worldwide for his fun, disciplined and detailed pursuit of authentic yoga and his compassionately effective touch, Tim travels to yoga shalas around the globe with the inclusive message of how study, steadiness and devotion is the means to powerful transformation both inside and outside of us.

    You can find out more about Tim’s work here.

    ‘This conversation with Tim Feldmann was so good. For quite a while I’ve wanted to talk to someone like Tim, who is one of the most recognisable of the current generation of Ashtanga teachers, about where the sharing of Ashtanga Yoga finds itself. Tim was so open and honest about his own process, where we are currently and what’s possible in the future. I was left feeling like I had found a new friend to ge deep with. This conversation is essential if you care about sharing the practice of Ashtanga yoga to others…’

    Scott Johnson – November 2021



  • Scott talks to Ashtanga yoga teacher Ellen Johannesen. A professional dancer at the time, Ellen travelled to the Lakshmipuram Institute (the ‘old old’ Shala) in 1997 where she spent three months studying with Pattabhi Jois.

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    You can become part of our Stillpoints Podcast Patreon Community and get weekly updates on the podcast, plus a monthly Stillpoints Podcast Live Stream Chat where you can talk to Scott about the conversations past, present and future. We'll also get some of the previous guests involved too.

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    Since then, Ellen’s sadhana has seen her live in a Buddhist monastery alongside five-thousand monks, learning Tibetan in Kathmandu, and studying Buddhism with the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.

    A devoted student, Ellen shares about finally feeling ready to take on the role of ‘teacher’, the value of learning the language of a spiritual tradition, the power of intention, and how contemplative practises can offer us all a different way of being in the world.

    You can find out more about Ellen’s work here.

    'Ellen is a deeply committed practitioner who has devoted her life to the study of yoga and Buddhism since the turn of the century. This conversation really gets to the heart of what it means to study both Ashtanga and Buddhism and how it can become a deep part of your life .'

    Scott Johnson - November 2021

  • Scott talks to Yoga and Dharma teacher Frank Jude Boccio. Frank took refuge in the Dharma after a period of practising with Thich Nhat Hanh in the 1990’s. In 2000, he began to study with Korean master Samu Sunim, who ordained Frank as a Dharma Teacher in 2007.

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    You can support The Stillpoints Podcast through our Patreon page and help us to continue to share inspiring and meaningful conversations.

    You can also join our monthly in-person on online Ashtanga Yoga and philosophy memberships here.

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    In this warm and insightful conversation Frank shares about his experiences of ‘not-self’, how Buddhism helped him to process grief and loss, the importance of honouring the differences as well as the similarities between yoga and Buddhism, and the lively philosophical debates that Buddha could have had with Patanjali.

    Frank is the author of ‘Mindfulness Yoga: The Awakened Union of Breath, Body, and Mind’as well as a national and international dharma/yoga teacher and lecturer. You can find out more about Frank’s work here and also join Franks Empty Mountain Sangha Online Facebook page here.

    'Frank Jude Boccio has been a deeply impactful part of my life since I discovered his work. His teachings on how to relate mindfulness to yoga asana and life has been profound for me. This conversation allowed me to lean in to the way he sees practice and life and there is so much here. Yoga, Zen Buddhism, Grief, Nirvana... This conversation is so, so lovely. I hope you enjoy it...'

    Scott Johnson - October 2021

  • Scott talks to Lucille Meyer about her powerful work as an activist, yoga teacher and CEO of Chrysalis academy. Chrysalis is one of the largest and most prestigious youth service organisations in South Africa. Lucille has overseen the transformation of thousands of young men and women, using the techniques of yoga and mindfulness and other modalities.

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    We’d like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

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    In this inspiring conversation Lucille and Scott talk about Lucille’s introduction to yoga whilst in solitary confinement. Lucille was detained in a South African prison in the early 90’s. In this conversation Lucille’s shares how this early activism shaped her and then how yoga changed her life. Lucille shares about her powerful work as a CEO and educator at Chrysalis Academy and how the young people are really changed through the tools of yoga, mindfulness, service and compassion.

    You can find out more about Lucille’s and the work of the Chrysalis Academy here.

    "Lucille Meyer is one of the most inspiring women I’ve met. She has such a powerful conviction to service using yoga and meditation. Her work at Chrysalis Academy, where she has helped to changed the life of thousands of young people, shows a dedication and profound sense os yoga as service. Her voice is powerful and this is one of my favourite conversations on the podcast. Enjoy Lucille’s powerful sharing and insights."

    Scott Johnson – July 2021

  • Scott and Dharma teacher Martin Aylward ‘chew the dharma fat’ over topics including contemplative practices, the inherent ‘juiciness’ of life, and the ultimate inevitability of liberation.

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    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community.
    You can sign up for a free yoga and meditation course and a free week on our online platform here.
    We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions, yoga philosophy and restorative yoga over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

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    Martin has been practicing meditation for 30 years. Over that time he studied in monasteries and Ashrams in India and Thailand. He explored many different teachings, from Indian asceticism to Buddhist tantric traditions.

    Martin began teaching the Dharma in 1999 after being encouraged by his teacher. In 2005, he co-founded Moulin de Chaves, a residential retreat centre in Southwest France. He has held pilgrimages, led wilderness retreats in France and the USA, and has taken small groups of Dharma students to practice in India and Bhutan.

    He now runs a number of online courses which are designed to help people integrate these transformational meditative practices into their daily lives.

    You can find out more about Martin’s teaching schedule here.

    His Mindfulness Teacher Training here.

    His new book Awake Where You Are: The Art Of Embodied Awareness here.

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    Marting Aylward is such a rich, joyful voice. He brings the teachings of Buddhism and mindfulness and gently lands them in the centre of our lives. For me he is one of the leading voices of contemplative practice teaching at the moment. This conversation will leave you inspired...

    Scott Johnson - July 2021

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    Hokusai Says

    by Roger Keyes

    Hokusai says look carefully.
    He says pay attention, notice.
    He says keep looking, stay curious.
    Hokusai says says there is no end to seeing

    He says look forward to getting old.
    He says keep changing,
    you just get more who you really are.
    He says get stuck, accept it, repeat
    yourself as long as it is interesting.

    He says keep doing what you love.

    He says keep praying.

    He says every one of us is a child,
    every one of us is ancient
    every one of us has a body.
    He says every one of us is frightened.
    He says every one of us has to find
    a way to live with fear.

    He says everything is alive --
    shells, buildings, people, fish,
    mountains, trees, wood is alive.
    Water is alive.

    Everything has its own life.

    Everything lives inside us.
    He says live with the world inside you.

    He says it doesn't matter if you draw,
    or write books. It doesn't matter
    if you saw wood, or catch fish.
    It doesn't matter if you sit at home
    and stare at the ants on your veranda
    or the shadows of the trees
    and grasses in your garden.
    It matters that you care.

    It matters that you feel.

    It matters that you notice.

    It matters that life lives through you.

    Contentment is life living through you.
    Joy is life living through you.
    Satisfaction and strength
    is life living through you.

    He says don't be afraid.
    Don't be afraid.

    Love, feel, let life take you by the hand.

    Let life live through you.

  • Scott has an open, honest and heartfelt conversation with colleague and international yoga teacher Kino Macgregor about Covid-19 and the year of the pandemic.

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    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community.

    You can sign up for a free yoga and meditation course and a free week on our online platform here.

    We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions, yoga philosophy and restorative yoga over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...
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    Scott and Kino talk about their own personal experiences around the global pandemic. They talk about the divisions that have become apparent within the yoga community as a result of the pandemic, the danger inherent in confining ourselves to our own online echo chambers, and the potential for healing by learning to listen to each other in these fraught and fragile times.

    Links to topics covered in the conversation:

    Kino's vaccination Instagram post on 23rd April 2021. Kino's response to the above Instagram post on 23rd April 2021 Jo Herman's long covid articles in The Guardian

    With over 1 million followers on Instagram and over 500,000 subscribers on YouTube and Facebook, Kino MacGregor is one of the world’s most recognisable yoga teachers.

    She is a Miami native and mango enthusiast. A sought-after yoga teacher, she has written four books and has produced six DVDs on Ashtanga yoga. She is the founder of Omstars, and co-founder of the Miami Life Center.

    A dedicated Ashtanga student, she was Certified to teach the method by Pattabhi Jois in Mysore, India. She continues to study in Mysore with her teacher Sharath, and is dedicated to sharing Ashtanga yoga with practitioners all over the world.

    Kino’s international schedule includes classes, privates, workshops and retreats. You can find out more about Kino’s teaching schedule here.

    I reached out to Kino after seeing her address the negative comments she received after being vaccinated. I've personally wanted to have this particular conversation all year. To be able to have it with Kino, one of the most recognisable yoga teachers in the world and someone who is as passionate about this incredibly important issue as I am, felt really valuable. I hope this conversation helps to create more dialogue in the yoga world as we move forward from the pandemic...

    Scott Johnson - May 2021

  • Scott talks to colleague and yoga teacher Petri Räisänen about his life as a yoga teacher and as one of the most respected names in Ashtanga yoga. Petri is deeply open and honest about his relationship to Mysore over the years and Petri and Scott talk about how we can move on from the abuses of Pattabhi Jois.

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    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

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    In this podcast we talk about the sexual abuse commited by Pattabhi Jois on a number of his students over the years. While this conversation centres Petri's experience, it is not meant to detract from the victim’s experience. We acknowledge the sexual abuses and other abuses of power that have happened in the Ashtanga community and the ways in which community members can be trained not to see the abuses that happen in plain sight. This denial serves to hide the abuse and creates a culture that is unsafe for victims. It is our hope that this conversation will help those who are also in a process of reckoning with their relationship to yoga practice and community.

    Below are links to the victims testimony and others of relevant interest:

    Karen Rain’s #metoo testimony

    Jubliee Cooke’s #metoo testimony

    Anneke Lucas’s testimony

    Silenced Voices – A panel discussion involving Karen Rain, Jubilee Cooke and others on sexual abuse in the yoga community.

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    Petri Räisänen is an internationally renowned and highly respected Ashtanga yoga teacher. He began practising in 1989, and has studied with teachers such as Derek Ireland, Radha Warrel, and Eddie Stern. In 2001, he was authorised to teach Ashtanga yoga by Pattabhi and Sharath Jois.

    Petri has been teaching since 1991. In 1997 he founded Ashtanga Yoga Helsinki with his friend and colleague, Juva Javanainen. He teaches in Finland and internationally alongside his wife, Wambui Njuguna-Räisänen.

    Petri’s teaching integrates healing therapy with yoga. He draws on his work as a traditional Finnish folk healer and naturopath, which he combines with his own experience of practising and teaching. He is known for his gentle, effective, and therapeutic - almost ‘magical’ - adjustments.

    He is the author of “Ashtanga Yoga – The Yoga Tradition of K. Pattabhi Jois” (2005), written in collaboration with Pattabhi and Sharath Jois; and “Nadi Sodhana” (2008), which includes interviews with Pattabhi and Sharath Jois.

    You can find out more about Petri’s teaching schedule here.

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    Petri and Scott talk about his early experiences with yoga and spirituality, working with prana while practising Finnish folk healing, practising with Derek Ireland and Radha Warrel in Finland and Crete, how he consciously changed his teaching style to a gentle approach, the injuries and sexual abuse inflicted by Pattabhi Jois and the conditions that allowed them to continue, the intergenerational abuse going back to Krishnamacarya and how Ashtanga might be able to heal moving forward, learning from and working with his wife Wambui, learning from the past to create a safer future.

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    Petri Räisänen is one of the most respected names in Ashtanga yoga. His honesty in this conversation really moved me and helped me to start to see the intensity that surrounded the 90's era of Ashtanga yoga and how the abuses of Pattabhi Jois were missed by those who were there. I came away from this conversation deeply respectful of how Petri is trying to change himself by looking at the mistakes of the past and the way we can move the sharing Ashtanga Yoga forward...

    Scott Johnson - January 2021

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with…

    Wambui Njuguna Räisänen, Greg Nardi, Ian Cheney

  • Scott talks to yoga teacher and educator Eddie Stern about his early life as a seeker of yoga and how the deeply spiritual aspects of his life evolved through his impact with India and hindu temples. Scott has known Eddie since 2014 and has co-hosted him in the UK twice. Both times Eddie performed Puja’s at the workshops and these were deeply moving rituals. Scott talks to Eddie about the evolution of this side of his teaching and practice.

    Also in the conversation Eddie and Scott talk about: teaching online; non-physical aspects of yoga; samskaras and how they shape our actions; the relationship between science and ritual; how understanding the tools of yoga can let us use them more effectively; his decision to change how he teaches; and, the pain caused by the sexual abuse comitted by Pattabhi Jois.

    We’d like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

    Eddie Stern has been practising yoga since 1987. He ran his school in New York, from 1993-2019. In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s it became a focal point for Ashtanga Yoga in New York for an eclectic group of spiritual seekers that included downtown artists and well known celebrities. He studied Ashtanga yoga under K. Pattabhi Jois and R. Sharath Jois, and he continues to study philosophy, Sanskrit, ritual, science, and religion, while maintaining a daily yoga practice.

    Together with his wife, Jocelyne, Eddie founded Manhattan’s first Vedically consecrated Ganesh Temple: The Broome Street Temple (2001-2015). Projects that Eddie has either founded, been involved in, or contributed to include: Black Yoga Teachers Alliance, Yoga and Science Conferences; Urban Yogis in the UK and New York; LIFE Camp; Namarupa magazine; Set/Reset; and the Inner Peace Network. He is the author of ‘One Simple Thing: A New Look at the Science of Yoga and How It Can Transform Your Life’. His most recent offering, created in collaboration with Jocelyne and Sergey Varichev, is The Breathing App, a free app with breathing exercises aimed at reducing stress and anxiety.

    Eddie has just released a brand new app called yoga365, 365 short daily practices that you can do every day.

    You can find out more about Eddie’s work and courses here.

    "Eddie Stern has been one of the foremost teachers of Ashtanga yoga over the past twenty five years and was teacher at Ashtanga Yoga New York for over twenty. He is a deeply devoted practitioner and teacher of yoga and shares it with such deep respect to the Indian tradition. I loved talking to Eddie about this side of his practice. There is so much to take from this inspiring conversation."

    Scott Johnson - January 2021

  • #024: Daniel Simpson

    Scott talks to Daniel Simpson, on his life as a yoga philosophy teacher and practitioner. Daniel presents ancient texts for modern times. He is the author of The Truth of Yoga, a comprehensive guide to the historic tradition and texts of yoga for contemporary practitioners.

    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

    Daniel Simpson's work is informed by his master's degree in Traditions of Yoga and Meditation (SOAS, University of London), and draws on his earlier experience as a foreign correspondent. He combines scholarly knowledge with humour and insight, making yoga philosophy accessible and relevant to practitioners today.

    Daniel teaches courses online, at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies, at Triyoga in London, around the UK and internationally. With two decades of experience, he aims to help students explore their own path. You can find out more about Daniel’s work and courses here.

    You can also purchase Daniel's book - The Truth of Yoga - here.

    The Truth of Yoga - Daniel Simpson

    Scott and Daniel have known each other since 2015 and in that time Daniel has become a highly regarded yoga philosophy teacher and academic. In this wide ranging conversation they share insights and stories on the last 15 years of change in the yoga world surrounding how yoga philosophy and history is taught. Daniel also shares personal stories and insights from his own life that compelled him to write his new book - The Truth Of Yoga.

    In this wide ranging conversation Daniel shares:

    About his euphoric experience during a silent meditation retreat, which completely transformed his relationship with the world and himself. How this transcendent experience transformed his asana practise into a practise of embodied consciousness, a physical practise for training the mind. His thoughts on the relationship between hedonism and spirituality. The connection between Vedic soma rituals and yoga, and the relationship between soma and ayahuasca. How yoga can become an addiction in itself, and about learning to identify and deal with these patterns. That the project of yoga was never about experiencing bliss, but an extreme solution for escaping samsara. About his book - The Truth of Yoga, which distills complex ideas into an accessible format His response to the question: ‘What is yoga?’ His previous work as a journalist and his move into academia, and how both have influenced his approach to writing. Why accuracy is important when presenting historic texts about yoga. The enduring effect of Yoga Body by Mark Singleton and how it influenced the academic study of physical yoga That he hopes his book ‘The Truth of Yoga’ will be used as a bridge between academic researchers and yoga practitioners. About the different and contradictory threads of yoga: dual and non-dual, householder and renunciate. How we can maintain traditional aspects in contemporary physical yoga. About his first trip to India, and his experience of attending the Kumbh Mela in 2001. How yoga ultimately helped him recognise, understand and deal with his issues with substance abuse. How yoga scholarship is a form of practise, a discipline in itself. How living a contemplative life is all about relationship: how we relate to the moment, relate to ourselves, and relate to others. A moment-by-moment engagement with reality.

    Daniel is a breath of fresh air. His knowledge on the philosophy and history of yoga is so deep yet he is able to share it in a beautifully open, simple and understandable way. I loved having this conversation with Daniel and got so much from it. This is a must for people interested in how the teaching of yoga philosophy and history has changed over the past 10 - 15 years..

    Scott Johnson - January 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Dr Matthew Clark, Taylor Hunt and Zephyr Wildman.

  • #023: Kia Naddermier

    Scott talks to his dear friend and colleague Kia Naddermier on their friendship and her life as a renowned yoga and pranayama teacher. They talk about the ability to pause being a key component in the evolution of yoga in your life.

    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

    Kia Naddermier is the main teacher & director of Mysore Yoga Paris and an internationally renowned teacher of yoga and pranayama. She is a dedicated advanced practitioner with over 25 years experience of and teaches Ashtanga Yoga, Pranayama, Kriyas and adjustment techniques. Kia has studied extensively within the traditional lineage of Ashtanga Yoga, and continues to practice, research and explore this vast tradition.

    She is a devoted, long-term student of Shri O.P. Tiwariji and his son Sudhir Tiwariji in the lineage of Kaivalyadham. Kia is one of the first few in the world to receive Kaivalyadham´s highest teaching certification in advanced Pranayamas and Kriyas. Kia teaches with careful adherence to the authentic teachings of Ashtanga Yoga and Pranayama whilst encouraging each individual to explore the beauty of the practice for themselves.

    She is dedicated to the growth and development of her students, and her way of teaching integrates her profound knowledge of the breath and Pranic energy, subtle and physical anatomy, with yogic principles. Her deep love and years of dedication to all aspects of this practice shines through in her attentive, insightful and inspirational teaching.

    She lives with her husband and two daughters in Paris where she upholds the daily Mysore-program at the Shala.She mentors teachers, runs long-term apprentice programs and gives workshops, trainings and retreats internationally.

    You can find out more about Kia’s teaching schedule here.

    The Practice of Pausing - Kia Naddermier

    Scott and Kia have been friends since 2015, sharing similar yoga shala's in London and Paris. They are dear forms and colleague, teaching together annually at the SYL Spring Gathering since 2015 and at Purple Valley in Goa since 2018. In this warm and intimate conversation Scott talks to kia about her life and evolution as a highly regarded teacher of yoga and pranayama. Kia is deeply honest and shares personal stories about where she finds herself today.

    In this personal and intimate conversation Kia shares:

    About her first Ashtanga yoga class in the early 90’s, where she encountered John Scott while working as a photographer in London. The immediate sense of homecoming, of landing in her body, that she felt after that first class. Her experience of working as a model as a teenager, and how yoga helped her to realise for the first time that her body could be felt and appreciated, rather than being judged externally for its appearance. The evolution of her practise from that first class; how she struggled to find any Ashtanga classes in Stockholm, so began with Iyengar yoga before going to see Radha and Derek Ireland in The Practise Place. How, after initially coming to the practise through asana, deeper layers of practise have opened up to her. Her interest in spirituality, which started from a young age, and how yoga presented a non-dogmatic way to explore the bigger questions in life. About meeting her Pranayama teacher Shri O.P. Tiwariji, and his humble way of sharing profound teachings. How Pranayama transformed her Ashtanga yoga practise. About the loss of her sister, and how practise helped her to cope with that loss, while giving her the resources to stay strong for her family. That sharing the practise with others during that time became a sort of self-healing, which is why she began teaching. About how she knew that she wasn’t ready to teach when she was invited to in her twenties, and how going through different phases of life while practising has given her the life experience necessary to share in a meaningful way. How practise always happens in a wider context of a messy and unpredictable world, and that the fruit of the practise is learning to sit down and pause in the middle of it. About slowing down to remember the truth of who we are amid the business of our lives. How raising a family has helped her to soften and bring a sense of humour and lightness to her practise. That Mysore Yoga Paris was formed through community, and how the sangha isn’t connected to one particular place, but to each other. How she has adapted the way teaches has in response to the covid pandemic, and how teaching online has allowed the international Mysore Yoga Paris sangha to come together in a ‘borderless shala’. That for her, living a contemplative life is when formal practise manifests as a pause in everyday life, giving space, a sense of choice in how we react, allowing us to drop in to a deeper sense of who we are.

    I've often said, 'There are yoga teachers and then there's Kia Naddermier...'It still rings true...I love Kia's teaching so much. She has this beautiful and magnetic way of landing the teachings of yoga so deeply in people. I never get tired of seeing how she can create magic in a yoga room and have been honoured to teach with her since 2015. I've wanted to talk to Kia since I started the podcast and am so happy this particular conversation is now out in the world. A must listen...

    Scott Johnson - December 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Josefin Wikström, Greg Nardi and Ann Weston

  • Scott talks to dear friend and colleague Josefin Wikström about how yoga changed her life and how she now shares yoga and Bollywood dancing to people in prisons and to those who suffer from complex trauma.

    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

    Josefin Wikström trained as a Yoga Therapist with The Minded Institute in London with a particular focus on complex trauma and mental health. She has also trained with Bessel van der Kolk, and is a certified TCTSY-F (Trauma Center Trauma-Sensitive Yoga Facilitator), having trained with David Emerson.

    She has been sharing trauma-informed yoga since 2003, and since 2008 she has brought yoga and dance into Swedish prisons. She has developed programmes for teaching yoga in prisons, and has taught internationally, including in San Quentin state prison in the US. In 2015, she began working with the Prison Yoga Project in Europe, and has led Prison Yoga Project trainings in Mumbai, India, and Mexico.

    As part of her work for the Swedish Probation services, she co-developed the Swedish Krimyoga program, an evidence-based program drawing on research on the benefits of yoga in correctional settings. She is expanding her trauma-informed yoga programs to include settings such as psychiatry units, the Juvenile justice system, and in schools.

    Through the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston, MA, she has completed the Traumatic Stress Studies Certification with She has also studied trauma-informed dance/movement therapy with Katia Verrault and Tripura Kashyap in India. Josefin is a professional member of ICPA-International Corrections and Prison Association.

    You can find out more about Josefin’s work here and all the Prison Yoga Project.

    You will be able to buy Josefin's new book, co-authored with upcoming guest James Fox, called Freedom from the Inside: A Woman's Guide to Yoga soon through this link here.

    Bringing Yoga Home - Josefin Wikström

    In this touching conversation Scott and Josefin talk about Josefin's life as a yoga practitioner and yoga therapist teaching in prisons and to people with complex trauma, a journey that moves from teaching in the slums of Mumbai in 2005 to tabling a discussion at the centre of the UK government in the House of Lords in 2015. She has developed into an incredibly wise and prolific yoga teacher, sharing her love and passion for yoga to the most vulnerable people there are.

    In this inspiring conversation Josefin shares:

    How yoga helped heal from childhood abuse and complex trauma. Had she been self medicating with alcohol and drugs then went to Goa at 18. She met an old man in New Delhi who said ‘you have to do yoga’! These words landed in her - he’d seen the unease in her body. How she went to Rishikesh and connected with breathing and moving in first or second class. She hadn't taken a deep breath before then. Started to feel grounded, less scattered. Felt like she’d found herself at home in herself a sense of safety she had'nt had before. Her drive in her work - can reach this place of safety. An accessible, simple way, for so many people How yoga isn’t just about bliss - embracing causes of suffering too. ‘Cleaning our inner space’ put experiences in boxes rather than throwing them out. How she found a healthy sense of connection with people practising yoga, not to do with drugs. She kept the dancing and let go of drugs Yoga fine tunes the senses. Her work in Mumbai - Kaivalya project. She met a lady in a cafe in Mumbai who worked with dance yoga mental health. Josefin was asked to join an NGO working with children who’d survived sexual abuse. Therapeutic programs for women & children, dealing with trauma in community. Helped her own rehabilitation - mind body practises worked where CBT and other therapy didn't. That movement practises transcend the need for common language. The essence of yoga is connection belonging to ourselves and human level. Her decision to return to Sweden and the need to bring the practises there. How she started working at a women’s prison in Sweden in 2008. How her experience of mental health issues and trauma help her to connect with the people she works with in prisons. The importance of keeping it real in order to help as a teacher. How sharing Bollywood dancing helped to break down the social hierarchies in prisons. How complex trauma can be a root cause for criminality, and that yoga & dance is a complementary therapy. Training guards to become yoga teachers - breaking down ‘us’ and ‘them’ mentality. Results of research study - yoga vs root cause of criminality. Improved compulsivity (reaction times) reduction anxiety, improved self control, higher sense of belonging, just moving & breathing, no philosophy. Reduction of ocd symptoms James Fox & prison yoga project (training in 2014). How she came to address HOL about yoga in UK prisons. The book ‘ Freedom from the Inside’ written with women in yoga program, in sweden & international, written with James Fox. Yoga is finding a safe & non judging connection. Yoga as a tool for self regulation help us manage everyday life. Yoga given her a sense of belonging & wholeness that she didn’t have before. Living a contemplative life gives life different colours, different dimensions of how we relate to others.

    ‘'Everyone needs to know who Josefin Wikström is. In my opinion she is one of the most inspiring and compassionate yoga teachers and therapists I know. Her work and drive to help people with trauma become more connected to themselves is deeply moving. She has taken her own trauma and mobilised to truly help those in need. It was a privilege to hold this conversation and I feel it's a great tool for yoga teachers to begin to see how they can connect to working with those who have trauma"

    Scott Johnson - November 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Zephyr Wildman, Taylor Hunt and Greg Nardi.

  • Scott talks to Ashtanga yoga teacher Taylor Hunt about how Ashtanga yoga has helped him through his recovery from addiction and how he now helps others using the same inspiring outlook.

    We’d like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream beginner classes, Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It’s a beautiful way to navigate these times…

    Taylor Hunt is a devoted practitioner of Ashtanga yoga and a passionate teacher of the traditional method. He was granted Level 2 authorisation in 2013 by his teacher Sharath Jois who he studies with in Mysore every year.

    His is a story of personal transformation. His book ‘A Way From Darkness’ is an inspiring account of his journey from addiction to health. He is director of the Trini Foundation, which shares the practice of Ashtanga with those suffering from addiction.

    Ashtanga yoga has been deeply healing in his life and he is dedicated to sharing the benefits with others. He teaches daily Mysore classes Ashtanga Yoga Columbus, where he supports the community of practitioners in their practice and their daily lives. He also offers workshops around the world.

    You can find out more about Taylor’s teaching schedule here.

    You can also contact the Trini Foundation if you are interested in learning more about their inspiring work.

    If you’ve been affected by any of the issues brought up in this conversation and need help you contact Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous (please note these links are UK based organisations).

    Recovery Through Yoga – Taylor Hunt

    In this honest and powerful conversation Scott and Taylor share intimate details about how their lives have been affected by addiction. Taylor has come such a long way in his sobriety and Scott from growing up in an alcoholic family. Their unique perspectives, particularly Taylor on how he has navigated his own recovery, is powerful and honest.

    In this moving conversation Taylor shares:

    What it means to be running a Mysore shala during the covid pandemic, and his decision to immediately hold classes online so he could carry on supporting his community About his book – Away from the Darkness, in which he writes about his journey from addiction to health. How he was convinced by his sponsor into taking his second yoga class after finding his first deeply uncomfortable because of everything it brought up. How he heard God speaking to him in savasana after that second class, telling, saying ‘you’re perfect, just the way you are’. He’d been sober for six months, and it was the first time he’d felt compassion and love for himself. He’s practised six days a week ever since. How sobriety rekindled his relationship with God. The relationship between being a Twelve Step sponsor and an Ashtanga teacher – the elements of coaching, accountability, and support. The daily work involved in staying sober, how he has to show up consistently in the program and on the mat. His reason for practising – that has to show up for sake of sobriety – means it’s life or death for him, as well as for a lot of people that he teaches, which is why he’s so passionate about showing up. The impact of his addiction on his family. The clarity after suffering he felt when his ex-wife took him for the treatment he needed. His deep gratitude for the second chance he’s been given That his first Ashtanga teacher was Laruga Glaser, who he practised with every day How he’s seen the practise help people, how it offers hope for escaping our samskaras. His belief in a higher power, whether it’s Jesus, Buddha, Vishnu, Shiva, Moses… they represent the same universal truths and inspire him in the same way, that his practice is like a prayer, a surrender to this higher power. The importance of being open with his children about his addiction. His work with the Trini Foundation, and how Ashtanga can help people in recovery The blessings in his life; his wife and his children That for him, living a contemplative life means showing up, and living a simple, uncomplicated life.

    ‘’Talking to Taylor was something I've wanted to do since I started the podcast. I’ve been personally affected by addiction from a young age, through my family, so to talk to Taylor about his recovery and how yoga has helped his sobriety felt deeply important top me. I was so deeply grateful at how honest Taylor was. I hope this helps others feel like they are not alone. Like Zephyr’s, its one of the most important and personal conversations I’ve had yet…

    Scott Johnson – November 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Zephyr Wildman.

  • #020: Prem & Radha Carlisi

    Scott talks to Prem and Radha Carlisi (and their lovely dogs) about their friendship since 2008 and how they've evolved over an incredibly close, and tender, twelve years of knowing each other.

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    We'd like to invite you to join our growing Stillpoint Online Ashtanga Yoga and Mindfulness community. We live stream Ashtanga Yoga assisted self practice and guided classes with evening mindfulness sessions over 6 days with Scott Johnson and the Stillpoint teaching faculty. It's a beautiful way to navigate these times...

    ---

    Anthony ‘Prem’ Carlisi and Heather ‘Radha’ Carlisi first came together as a teaching team in Sri Lanka in 2007. They felt a powerful synergy between their combined energy as teachers, which led them to continue to teach together internationally. They were married in 2013.

    In December 2008 they travelled to Bali, where in November 2009 they established the Ashtanga Yoga Bali Research Center (AYBRC). In their shala they teach in the tradition of K. Pattabhi Jois, with whom they both studied for many years. Prem first travelled to Mysore to study in 1978, and Radha in 1995 having begun her study of Ashtanga yoga with Chuck Miller in 1990.

    Following the example set by Krishnamacharya, they adapt their teaching to the individual needs of each student. They also apply their knowledge Ayurveda to their unique teaching style, blending the elements of Ashtanga yoga and Ayurveda to help students to achieve a balanced lifestyle well beyond their asana practise.

    Prem and Radha have many shared at AYBRC. You can find out more about their teaching schedule here.

    Finding Humility Together - Prem and Radha Carlisi

    In this moving conversation Scott, Prem and Radha share intimate and tender memories of their friendship over the past 12 years. Prem and Radha are deeply open and honest about how their relationship managed the passing of Prem's daughter Shanti in 2012 and how they navigated people coming to their Yoga Shala in Bali and their own yoga practices. We are left with hope....

    In this deeply moving conversation Prem & Radha share:

    The challenges they’ve faced running a Mysore shala from Bali during the COVID-19 pandemic. How Scott contacted Prem in 2008 after reading ‘The Only Way Out is In’, and ended up hosting both Prem and Radha for a London workshop. Prem’s motivation for writing his book - to share his perspective as a ‘regular guy’ so that people would know that yoga is accessible to anyone. That after Radha’s first yoga class - which she found in the Yellow Pages - she told the teacher (Chuck Miller) that she was going to be a yoga teacher. About the incredible support Radha has given Prem in his work and in his personal life. About how they set up Ashtanga Yoga Bali together, and how it felt like everything was falling into place for them. That everything collapsed in 2013 with the death of Prem’s daughter, Shanti. How they managed to keep the shala open, with crowds coming to see them, while struggling to come to terms with this tragic loss. The thoughtless comments that Prem received about how, as a long term yogi, he should be able to deal with grief. How grief forces a deeper perspective to Ashtanga yoga practise beyond the physical. That teaching - being able to give to others - can be a solace, and that suffering can bring empathy. The sense of humbling humiliation that Prem felt, in the face of such grief after this life-changing loss, despite external material successes. Their intentions around organising Ashtanga yoga conferences, hoping to keep the community connected after K. Pattabhi Jois died. The responsibility that senior teachers have to pass on the subtler layers of practise that move beyond the physical. About why Ashtanga yoga is a constant process of discovery, rather than a static set of rules. How important it is to meet all students as individuals, and that teaching this way becomes a dance. That an ‘advanced’ practise isn’t necessary to experience the principles of Ashtanga yoga practise: breath, bandha, and drishti. The relationship between the ethereal aspects of practise and how they relate to our physical being. Learning to dance with the people in our lives and with ourselves: Nataraja, Shiva, the aspect of life and death. How Prem’s practise has become more contemplative over time, spending hours in meditation. How Radha has become more forgiving of herself, and that in finding more freedom in her practise she has a better understanding of who she is, rather than who she thinks she’s supposed to be.

    ‘'I've been wanting to have this conversation with my dear friends Prem and Radha since I started the Stillpoints Podcast. It is one of the tenderest and most open conversations I have had and I loved the candid honesty that both Prem and Radha bring. They share how they have navigated grief together and that this is now the foundation of their relationship. We're left with a sense of hope. That it's a dance...

    Scott Johnson - September 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with John Scott, Dr Matthew Clark and Liz Lark.

  • #019: Laruga Glaser

    Scott talks to Laruga Glaser on her life as a yoga student and teacher of Ashtanga yoga. She also shares her experience as a woman of colour in the yoga industry.

    On 3rd June Laruga shared a 52:39 face to camera Instagram post on her experience as a POC in Ashtanga yoga. The majority of her conversation (with Scott) references Laruga's post. It would be highly beneficial to watch this whole share. It is beautiful, powerful and raw....

    Laruga Glaser was first drawn to yoga in 1996, and after coming across Ashtanga in 1998 she fully immersed herself in the method and now has over 20 years of dedicated Ashtanga yoga practise. She made her first trip to Mysore to study at KPJAYI in 2007 and has returned every year ever since. A committed student, an advanced practitioner and a Certified teacher, Laruga endeavours to pass on the tradition of Ashtanga yoga. Laruga shares the teachings of Ashtanga yoga as an act of deep love with which she aspires to create an open, challenging and inspiring space in which each individual who comes to her can realise their full potential.

    Laruga leads the Ashtanga Yoga program at Yogayama in Stockholm, Sweden and teaches workshops and retreats around the world. You can find out more about Laruga's teaching schedule here.

    Leaning in to Vulnerability - Laruga Glaser.

    Scott and Laruga have a beautifully open conversation on Laruga's life as a student and teacher of Ashtanga yoga. She shares how she left a corporate life to become one of the most recognised faces in Ashtanga Yoga. She also shares how she has had to struggle as a woman of colour in the world of yoga and push hard to get to where she is. Scott and Laruga also talk about how to make yoga spaces more diverse.

    In this inspiring conversation Laruga shares:

    The ways that yoga has landed for her many times in her life, right from the very first time - a series of ‘aha’ moments, of finding inner stillness. How she began practising by following Iyengar-inspired videos by Patricia Walden and Rodney Yi, which helped her to release back pain and encouraged her to carry on practising. How she started learning Ashtanga from David Swenson’s videos and books, which she considers to be her first virtual teacher That despite ‘doing things wrong’, like not holding the drishti or poses for long enough, she still felt a shift, another ‘aha’ moment How Ashtanga felt ‘complete’ to her Her sense of finally feeling at home when she found yoga, that she was in her space, where she’s supposed to be. That while she was at university in Ohio she found an ad in the student paper for 90 days of yoga for $90 - she went every single day. That she found Laurel Howdry, her first Ashtanga yoga teacher, in her last year of university, How her dedicated Ashtanga practise kept her sane and grounded while she was on a corporate career path. That when she found herself at a crossroads between her career and yoga, she decided to follow yoga. When she made her first trip to Mysore in 2007 it was to be a student, to go and study at the source. How she began teaching internationally after that first trip to Mysore, when a fellow student invited her to teach in Taiwan. About her 14 trips to Mysore and how the energy in the new shala still remains the same The importance of being a student. The strong energetic pull she felt that led her to share in depth on about the lack of diversity in Ashtanga yoga, and how it was a vulnerable thing for her to do. About how it finally felt like people were collectively willing to listen to her experience, despite having been speaking out on individual level for years That she spoke out for the people who didn't feel they fit in About having to deal with microaggressions from within the yoga community, and how she’s been the one who’s had to do the work unpacking these. That these uncomfortable moments have pushed her to a place of confidence, having transformed toxicity into something positive. That she’s nurtured a culture of diversity in her Mysore room, making all people feel welcome and comfortable. About feeling overwhelmed by the response to her video, with many people of colour sharing their experience that yoga spaces don't feel conducive to people from diverse backgrounds, and that the practise feels elitist in a socio-economic sense. How she challenges organisers when she teaches in countries where people of colour are the majority but not represented in her workshop. Her experience of resistance within the Ashtanga yoga community to discuss uncomfortable things. How she’s experienced dismissiveness from her peers, a sense of being ‘put in her place’ About her relationship with her father, a white European, who’s done the work and who sees diversity as a beautiful thing That she’s learned more from her dad through seeing example than the yoga teachers she used to look up to That we don’t need to look so far outside ourselves for these lessons. What it means to her to live a contemplative life.

    ‘'This conversation with Laruga was so valuable to have. She shares so openly about how she has had to navigate the yoga world as a woman of colour and how she has created a diverse and mindful yoga space in her home of Stockholm. Her courage and strength in speaking out is so inspiring. We are left with how we can find ways to navigate open conversations that matter. To listen...

    Scott Johnson - September 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Wambui Njuguna Räisänen, Deepika Mehta and Ann Weston.

  • #018: Simon Borg-Olivier

    Scott talks to Simon Borg-Olivier on his 50 years as a teacher and practitioner of yoga. Simon Borg-Olivier is a maverick and someone who has truly done his own research into how yoga works for him.

    Simon Borg-Olivier has been studying traditional forms of posture, movement and breathing for over 50 years. He has worked as a research-based scientist, exercise-based physiotherapist and a university lecturer. He has over 33 years experience teaching yoga, inspiring people all around the world. He co-founded Yoga Synergy in 1984 with Bianca Machliss, leading daily yoga classes, workshops, teacher training courses and international events.

    His passion for his work has brought him to understand the interconnectedness of the world around us, and the belief that we can make the world a better place by acknowledging and enhancing the connections within us and around us. The purpose of a yoga practise for Simon is to ‘lovingly encourage the circulation of energy and consciousness’ in the body, so that we can be in greater harmony with everything around us.

    You can find out more about Simon’s profile and teaching schedule here and his teacher training courses here

    Simon also has a new online Ashtanga Yoga course. You can access it here.

    Finding The Real Yoga – Simon Borg-Olivier

    Scott and Simon have an incredibly expansive conversation on SImon’s 50 year exploration into yoga and movement and his search for the ‘real’ yoga. Simon shares incredible stories of his time spent with some of the leading teachers of modern postural yoga and shares how he has formulated his unique approach to yoga teaching and practice.

    In this inspiring conversation Simon shares:

    How he was introduced to breathing techniques when he was very young. His fascination from an early age with the connection between yogis and nature. That for him, meditation is a deep deep process of the body and mind based on circulation of the blood in the body. How his approach to meditation resonated with the Iyengar teaching method. How meeting Professor Bim Dev Malik inspired him to see the possibilities of what yoga can achieve. That meeting Shandor Remete in 1985 really deepened his knowledge of Iyengar Yoga and sent him to meet BKS Iyengar in India, leading him to understand that only BKS Iyengar taught true Iyengar yoga. How he learnt Ashtanga yoga in 1985 from Robert Lucas, Cliff Barber and Danny Paradise. About meeting Pattabhi Jois in the 1990s, and w he’s still inspired by Ashtanga yoga. How he met TKV Desikachar, who was an influence too. How seeing and learning the Malakam practice in India inspired him greatly. Learning dasaran in Malakam was challenging but a way to connect with the Indian boys in India. The similarities between yoga postures and martial arts postures. About his time working in an Indian hospital. His decision to teach yoga rather than become an academic in 1992. How, as a result of a friend having a bad accident, he presented yoga exercises to doctors to help rehabilitate paraplegics. That training to be a physiotherapist was about being able to present yoga to doctors as a valid rehabilitation process. How becoming a physiotherapist changed his way of teaching people. His views on how easy it is to become a yoga teacher now, and why he set up his own teacher training programme. How Yoga Synergy became a system that could help benefit a wide range of people, basing it on traditional Ashtanga Vinyasa yoga and adapting it for the modern body. How he healed from a back injury by changing how he moves as well as how he teaches, and how this non-traditional approach has been healing for himself and others. How care needs to be taken with yoga cueing so that their meaning and helpfulness doesn’t get lost or misunderstood How he met his teacher, Master Zhen Hua Yang, in 2007, who he continues to train with. How he sees his role as a teacher as learning from his mistakes and doing better job with his students than he did with himself. That the ultimate purpose of yoga is to realise that we are all one – a manifestation of connected consciousness – which we can start to realise by becoming physically connected with ourselves first. That, for him, the aim of yoga practice is to generate loving information and communication in the body by freeing good energy, and becoming yama and niyama in action. That, ultimately, it’s all about love.

    Simon talks about:

    Shandor Remete

    BKS Iyengar

    Prashant Iyengar

    Cliff Barber.

    ‘To me Simon Borg-Olivier is a teacher’s teacher. A modern day icon and maverick in the yoga world. He is a visionary and has never rested on his laurels, always learning… This conversation get’s behind how he has become the yogi we know and love. An essential listen for all modern day yoga practitioners who are on a quest for real yoga….

    Scott Johnson – September 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Danny Paradise, Ann Weston, and Dr Matthew Clark.

  • #017: Greg Nardi

    Scott talks to close friend and colleague Greg Nardi on his life as an Ashtanga yoga practitioner and teacher.

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    In this podcast we talk about the sexual abuse commited by Pattabhi Jois on a number of his students over the years. While this conversation centers Greg's experience, it is not meant to detract from the victim's experience. We acknowledge the sexual abuses and other abuses of power that have happened in the Ashtanga community and the ways in which community members can be trained not to see the abuses that happen in plain sight. This denial serves to hide the abuse and creates a culture that is unsafe for victims. It is our hope that this conversation will help those who are also in a process of reckoning with their relationship to yoga practice and community.

    Below are links to the victims testimony and others of relevant interest:

    Karen Rain’s #metoo testimony

    Jubliee Cooke’s #metoo testimony

    Anneke Lucas’s testimony

    Silenced Voices - A panel discussion involving Karen Rain, Jubilee Cooke and others on sexual abuse in the yoga community.

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    Greg Nardi believes in the healing power of yoga for all. His style of teaching empowers students to discover the approach to the practice that is most beneficial for them.

    He has been practicing yoga since 1996, and is a 500 hr E-RYT with Yoga Alliance. He is currently director of Ashtanga Yoga Worldwide where he teaches workshops in yoga practice and theory internationally, and is co-director of Grassroots Yoga where he teaches in his home of Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

    His work draws on his knowledge of the oral traditions of yoga, having studied Sanskrit chanting and yoga philosophy in Mysore, India. He also travelled to KPJAYI thirteen times, the first trip was in 1999. He was later authorised by Pattabhi Jois to teach Ashtanga yoga. He has studied extensively with teachers in North America and Europe, and he draws on his personal experience of practice, as well as his ongoing self-study of academic research in contemporary and traditional yoga.

    Greg resigned his authorization from KPJAYI in 2018. He now works with his colleagues at Amāyu yoga, developing an organization and learning pathway for Ashtanga teachers to help create safer spaces for yoga practitioners. Amāyu’s work is consent driven, practitioner centered, and based in practitioner empowerment.

    You can find out more about Greg’s teaching schedule here

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    Empowerment through Ashtanga Yoga - Greg Nardi

    Scott and Greg have a deeply open and honest conversation on the evolution of yoga in Greg’s life. They have been close friends since 2013 and share in a moving conversation how the devotional aspect of yoga became a central part of Greg’s life and how Greg has shifted direction since he left KPJAYI.

    In this intimate conversation Greg shares:

    How he was drawn to the spiritual aspect of yoga from the very beginning. How he explored different yoga traditions, such as Jivamukti, before settling on Ashtanga yoga. The pull he felt to travel to Mysore, the home of Ashtanga yoga. His early misconception that ‘gurus’ have godlike aspects, and how until recently this formed a big part of his life and belief system. The immediate connection he felt when he first met K Pattabhi Jois. The romanticised image he had of Mysore during his first few trips there. How he witnessed K Pattabhi Jois’ abusive treatment of women, and his growing disillusionment with his teacher. The problems with his initial response to Karen Rain’s 2017 #metoo statement, and how he’s learned and evolved since then. How he had to let go of his conception of K Pattabhi Jois as his ‘guru’, and how as a response he changed his whole teaching process, rejecting the authoritarian model of the Ashtanga yoga teaching method. How the challenges of the last few years have shown him what yoga really means to him, and that things falling apart have helped him to feel more connected to himself. His belief that creating connection and personal agency for practitioners is key for developing Ashtanga yoga.

    ‘This is such a rich conversation. It shows how one can use their personal agency in their own practice to see that the light can grow from there, not anywhere else. Greg is one of the most considerate and compassionate teachers I’ve met and I’m so proud to call him a friend. We’ve had many conversations over the years and I’m so pleased that his wisdom, intelligence and insights are now available. He has really found a way to navigate himself into a new way of being after the huge disappointment he felt from his teachers behaviour.’

    Scott Johnson - August 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Ian Cheney, David Keil, and Mark Robberds.

  • Scott talks to Wambui Njuguna-Räisänen on her life in yoga.

    An up and coming wellness advocate, Wambui has a blend of formal Ashtanga yoga training, Chavutti Thirumal (massage by foot press) and life experience that gives her a unique ability to see and hear those around her in a way that is tender, gentle and real.

    Wambui started practicing Ashtanga yoga in 2008 and began assisting Petri Räisänen, who is also her husband, in 2010. She received her Chavutti Thirumal massage training in 2013 from Helen Noakes and Indian head massage training from Terry Thomas in 2019. Wambui combines various healing modalities into her treatments, such as Finnish jäsenkorjaus (bone setting), fascial release, breath work to create customised and highly individualised healing sessions for the client.

    She aspires to be as human as possible in her teachings and both works and lives from a place of compassion and authenticity. As such, she strives to create spaces in the wellness and spiritual culture where tough, tender conversations can be had with brave truth-telling and equanimity. Where topics such as racism and cultural appropriation can be addressed without resorting to spiritual bypass and denial.

    It is her greatest aspiration that liberation and awakening can be embodied not only on the individual level but on the collective plane as well; so that we may work to furthering a world based on the tenets of justice, safety and love for all.

    You can find more about Wambui’s work here.

    Wambui also shares widely on her Instagram page here.

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    Reclaiming Joy Through Heartbreak - Wambui Njuguna-Räisänen

    Scott and Wambui have a deeply open and honest conversation on diversity in the yoga world. Scott and Wambui met when Wambui emailed Scott about his work with Amāyu. Since then they have shared conversations on diversity and how the Ashtanga yoga world can become more open to wider voices. Wambui also shares her evolution from yoga practitioner to teacher to activist.

    In this intimate conversation Wambui shares:

    How yoga has always been a contemplative practice for her, right from the beginning, in a deeply embodied somatic way Her background in dance, and the experience of taking her first Hatha yoga class while having a tough year training in modern dance at university That yoga let her discover a deep intuitive knowing that she was enough, just as she is, and that the body is not something to be conquered Her experience of practicing yoga during her time at grad school in Chicago, and how she didn’t feel comfortable identifying herself as a yogi during that time as a result of the monocultural white yoga culture How she found community with black and brown people through Capoeira, Samba, and Afro-Brazillian dancing, a culture that wasn’t present in yoga spaces. Her experience of moving to the UAE as an English teacher, and hitting rock bottom while she was there. How she had her first experience of Ashtanga yoga while working in Abu Dhabi, and how empowering she found her gradual immersion into the practice How in 2009 she studied Ashtanga intensively, travelling to Purple Valley in February to study with Nancy Gilgoff and her now-partnerPetri Räisänen, then to Mysore in July to study with Saraswati, and then practicing with Sharath in Helsinki in August. Her experience moving to Helsinki in January 2010 Her calling to teach, which developed into teaching yoga with her partner Petri Her experience navigating yoga spaces as a multiracial black woman How yoga spaces operate on assumed white norms How she had to silence parts of herself in the past, and how she will not be silent any more How in 2015 her friend Rosalie bought her This Bridge Called My Back (Rosario Moraleas) and Sister Outsider (Audre Lorde), which led her to really consider who is on her bookshelf, and make a conscious effort to seek out community with people of colour in Helsinki. How the tools we develop in yoga practice can be valuable as self care when navigating difficult topics The work that the Ashtanga world needs to do in terms of understanding and countering cultural appropriation, and the need for nuanced discussion with South Asian voices leading Spiritual bypassing within the yoga community, when kindness becomes weaponised The fragmentary effect of Colonialism in separating people from themselves and their history, and how and why it is important for everyone to learn where they come from Ahimsa as an ongoing process rather than a fixed goal How privilege doesn’t need to be something to be ashamed of, but does need to be leveraged effectively How she came to study Buddhism with black African teachers such as Lama Rod Owens Her resonance with Bodhisattva aspiration of collective liberation, and why the prevalent emphasis on samadhi as self-realisation is incomplete Karen Rain’s 2017 statement on decades of systemic abuse within the Ashtanga Yoga community, and how unprepared the community was to address it in a productive way due to dynamics of power and privilege The limits and dangers of the authority model of teaching and how it is healthier to think on collective level The need for a trauma informed approach to teaching yoga The importance of accountability How yoga isn’t separate from the patriarchy and its harmful traits of toxic masculinity, victim blaming and rape culture. How an element of joy is important when undertaking the difficult work of decolonising one's own mind Her hope that that white people can begin to unpack things for themselves, because black people are exhausted That for her, living a contemplative life means making space for her heart to break, making space for discomfort and pain without pushing it away or making it bigger, but being open to what it can teach about being a human in this here and now. The importance of friendship across lines of difference so that people can feel held, seen, cared for and trusted.

    'In all the Stillpoints conversations I really love seeing our guests open up. But Wambui's honesty and vulnerability really inspired me. I loved this deeply profound and meaningful conversation and think it's an essential listening for everyone interested in equality in yoga.'

    Scott Johnson - June 2020

    If you enjoyed this podcast then you might also enjoy Scott’s conversations with Deepika Mehtaand Jess Glenny.